With the captains of Indian industry, including Reliance Industries boss Mukesh Ambani, JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal, Airtel chief Sunil Bharti Mittal, Niranjan Hiranandani and a galaxy of foreign delegates from the US, Germany, Korea, Japan and a host of European countries, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said West Bengal will be the new digital technology powerhouse of India.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the fourth Bengal Global Business Summit at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre on the outskirts of Calcutta, Banerjee thanked Ambani for his commitment to enhance investment in the state.
Ambani said Reliance Industries' investment in Bengal has gone up from Rs 4,500 crore in 2016 to Rs 28,000 crore in 2018.
“Reliance can be trusted the most to fulfil the dreams of the people of Bengal to launch the digital revolution in Bengal, which has been a cradle of revolutions earlier, including the industrial revolution,” he said.
“Bengal will become the cradle of a digital technology revolution—Reliance Jio will invest heavily in the state to make it a digital technology hub,” he added.
“Within the next few years, every home in Bengal will be a smart home, connected through the next generation digital technology,” Ambani further said.
Praising Banerjee for her developmental vision and her government’s policy of being industrial-friendly, Ambani said: “With Mamata didi’s help we will ensure 100 per cent high-speed internet connectivity in Bengal by introducing the latest state of the art digital technology. Bengal has the most investor-friendly environment in the country.”
With major investment in the state, JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal too pledged a further investment of Rs. 6,000 crore in Bengal.
“Kolkata has a special place in my heart. Besides being born in the city and married to a Kolkata girl—Sangita— Kolkata and the people of Bengal have a loving characteristic unlike any other cities in the country,” he said.
Expressing his Kolkata connect, Jindal, who heads a 13 million dollar conglomerate, said: “Sangita, who has been closely working with the Bengal government’s Kanyashree scheme, skill-training for women in the state, will set up a partition museum in Kolkata, which will depict the joys and sorrows of the people and the history when Bengal was partitioned by the British into the erstwhile East Bengal and West Bengal."
Welcoming investors from across the globe, Banerjee said Bengal was “the hub of opportunities".
“I welcome the UAE-based DP World, who have signed a 74 per cent equity to develop the until now stalled river port at Kulpi. The group will develop the Kulpi port, work for which was stalled for the last seven year, by investing Rs 3,000 crore,” she said.
She said Bengal is the destination for business as it is the gateway not only to the northeastern states but also to neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
“Bengal is a destination, from where you can invest, from where you get a ready market. In the last seven years, we have changed the perception of Bengal as an investment unfriendly destination.”
Addressing foreign delegates from more than 23 countries, Banerjee said, Bengal has talent and is number one in skilled human resources.
Purnendu Chatterjee of The Chatterjee Group said Bengal is a treasure house of high-end talent and called on the business leaders to set up research centres in the state.
“Let us research this high-end talent space in the villages of Bengal. The Chatterjee Group has already set up three research centres in the state to tap this talent pool from rural Bengal,” he said, urging Ambani, Jindal and other industry captains to follow suit.
Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra, who conducted the session, said: “Bengal has grown. Bengal is in business now. Bengal means business. Come to Bengal. Bandhs that was part and parcel of the Bengal earlier are a thing of the past now.”